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current topic Introduction

The Developing Years




Appendix A

Appendix B

Appendix C

National Park Service Uniforms
The Developing Years 1932-1970
Number 5


man's uniform

The first few decades after the founding of America's system of national parks were spent by the men working in those parks first in search of an identity, then after the establishment of the National Park Service in 1916 in ironing out the wrinkles in their new uniform regulations, as well as those of the new bureau.

The process of fine tuning the uniform regulations to accommodate the various functions of the park ranger began in the 1930s. Until then there was only one uniform and the main focus seemed to be in trying to differentiate between the officers and the lowly rangers. The former were authorized to have their uniforms made of finer material (Elastique versus heavy wool for the ranger), and extraneous decorations of all kinds were hung on the coat to distinguish one from the other.

The ranger's uniform was used for all functions where recognition was desirable: dress; patrol (when the possibility of contact with the public existed), and various other duties, such as firefighting. Regular civilian clothing was authorized to be worn when doing hard physical labor, such as building roads or similar projects, where the uniform might become soiled or torn.

The rangers were required to furnish and maintain their own uniforms in a presentable manner from their low pay, placing an undue burden on their shoulders. Consequently, civilian clothing was quite often worn when patrolling the backcountry, especially in the wintertime, since the chance of meeting the public was very remote.

Whenever rangers' uniform became a little shopworn and needed replacing, many of them, no doubt, reserved their new ones for the more prestigious occasions, and kept the old ones for more arduous duties. Even so, the single-style uniform did not lend itself well to all situations.

The third decade of the Twentieth Century saw the beginning of the developing years for the National Park Service ranger uniform. Up until 1936, the uniform regulations dealt mainly with tidying up loose ends of the original 1920 regulations, such as materials and ornamentation. Beginning that year, more and more clothing found its way into the ranger's closet to cover those occasions when the standard uniform would not suffice.

Most of the early additions dealt with cold weather apparel. Heavy uniform parkas and Mackinaws, warm caps and other specialized apparel were authorized as the need arose, for such arduous duties as ski patrol, for example.

Since most of the people reading this book will have already read the previous publications, and the same people, in and out of the Park Service assisted in this volume as well, it would be redundant to list all those individuals again, but I wish to express my heartfelt gratitude to them all for their unselfish assistance in making this book possible.


Last Modified: Wed, Feb 7 2001 11:30:00 pm PDT

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